Los Angeles County has agreed to pay Vanessa Bryant a $28.85 million settlement to bring an end to her legal battle against individuals who improperly took and shared disturbing photos of her husband and daughter after they died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
The settlement encompasses the $15 million judgment she was awarded after a two-week civil jury trial last year in Los Angeles and settles all ongoing and future litigation and claims from Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. The settlement will also cover her children and is subject to court approval.
Bryant’s lawyer, Luis Li, stated that this settlement is the result of Mrs. Bryant’s brave fight to hold those accountable for their repugnant behavior. The settlement is hoped to end the practice of exploiting and sharing gruesome images of deceased family members.
Bryant had sued the county after discovering that county sheriff’s and fire department employees used their personal phones to share and display shocking images of her deceased family members from the crash scene. Her attorneys argued that these first responders had no legitimate reason for doing so and were violating her privacy rights by using the photos as souvenirs or objects of amusement.
Bryant took her case to trial in August, where a federal jury ruled in favor of her and fellow plaintiff Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the same crash. The jury determined that the county fire and sheriff’s departments violated their constitutional rights to control the death images of family members. The jury awarded Chester $15 million and Bryant $16 million for their past and future emotional distress, though Bryant’s amount was reduced to $15 million after a juror noted an error on the verdict form.
In total, the photos scandal has cost the county over $51 million in settlements, including $19.95 million for Chester and $1.25 million each for two other families who lost loved ones in the same crash.